Empty beds still available for homeless

IT may have been one of the coldest winters for decades with people still sleeping on the streets of Ipswich, but there are still empty beds in the town for the homeless.

IPSWICH: It may have been one of the coldest winters for decades with people still sleeping on the streets of Ipswich, but there are still empty beds in the town for the homeless.

Two houses in London Road which were converted into accommodation for homeless people three years ago have only one tenant between them.

And emergency beds, set up in Willoughby House for those who have nowhere to sleep, have never been fully occupied despite sub-zero temperatures.

The rooms have emptied as Ipswich has exceeded the government's targets for homelessness in the town.

Borough housing spokesman Richard Pope said: “We were set a target to have just 100 people presenting themselves to us as homeless - but we now have just 62.

“That is why there is less demand for emergency homeless accommodation. People are contacting us earlier so we are able to intervene and prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. In that sense our homeless strategy is being successful.”

Most Read

There are still people sleeping rough - but this is mainly because they do not want to use council housing services, for whatever reason.

A spokesman for the borough said the number of emergency beds had been doubled to four during the cold spell - but they had never all been used.

“We can't help if people don't ask us to help them - you can't force people into emergency accommodation,” he said.

Opposition housing spokesman John Mowles was surprised to hear that the houses in London Road were largely empty.

He said: “With all the concern about homelessness it seems odd that these units are empty.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter